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MDSU 2 Assists Hurricane Katrina Victims

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051103-07
Release Date: 11/3/2005 3:32:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class Lynn Iron, Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 homeported at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., returned from the Gulf of Mexico Oct. 1 upon completion of hurricane relief efforts.

MDSU 2 cleared more than 775 miles of coastline and channels of debris, which Hurricane Katrina and Rita produced, allowing the delivery of much needed fuel and commercial goods to many critical Southern Ports.

“We cleared approximately 95 percent of the water ways,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class (DSW) Alexander Tumaniszwili. “This allowed access to various areas critical to restoring daily life, including the fishing fleets to access berths and packing houses, ships including USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) to reach moorings, and vessels laden with fuel and or coal to access facilities. This effort enabled utilities to become operational and much needed fuel to be delivered to the Gulf Coast.”

MDSU 2 began their mission by surveying the coastlines and channels for debris and sunken ships using a side scan sonar - an unmanned towed array system - led by a boat. This system transmits sonar through the water and returns a one-dimensional picture of the ocean floor, including any debris that may be on the bottom.

“It enabled us to identify if the object was a boat, debris or mud,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class (DV/PJ) Chris Daly. “If it was a boat or large amount of debris, we would mark it with a buoy for identification and make preparations to remove it.”

Once all obstructions were identified, MDSU 2 divers began their preparations for entering the water. Everyone involved understood the level of precaution needed to provide a safe working environment.

“We remained cautious during the entire mission because one minor slip up could injure one of our teammates,” said Tumaniszwili. “There were many nets and movable stuff which could trap a diver underwater; therefore, we had to remain alert.”

Although MSDU 2 conducted more than 10,864 minutes of dive time, they appreciated the extra help received from foreign divers, including their coalition with Canadian and French diving teams.

“All the diving teams worked together like a well-oiled machine,” said Cmdr. Glenn Allen, commanding officer, MSDU 2. “It was amazing to watch, but you would have thought that we all served in the same unit. I think we really saw the fruits of the bi-lateral exercises that we do each year with our NATO counterparts."

Even though MDSU 2 completed their diving missions, they did not want to leave without visiting and assisting some local residents in the town of Slidell, La.

“When you are in an area where people need assistance it is hard to just finish one job and leave,” said Convertino “We ended up going to Slidell where many of the residents were living in tents. We handed out Meals-Ready-To-Eat and bottled water, while our corpsmen provided first-aid to the local residents.”

In the end, MDSU 2 proved that their training was not only meant for use in time of war, but they were also capable of handling emergency situations in the same manner as any job they were trained to do.

“I was extremely impressed by the ability of MDSU 2 Sailors to adapt our expeditionary warfighting skills to meet the humanitarian and disaster relief missions,” said Allen. “To a person, all divers and support personnel were exceptional, motivated and eager to assist fellow Americans in need. They made a tremendous impact on the restoration of civil infrastructure across the Gulf States including Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. At the end of the mission, I think each member felt pretty good about truly making a difference.”

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